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Future History Books In Order

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Publication Order of Future History/Heinlein Timeline Books

Misfit (1939)Description / Buy at Amazon
Methuselah's Children (1941)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Man Who Sold the Moon (1950)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Green Hills of Earth (1951)Description / Buy at Amazon
Revolt in 2100 (1953)Description / Buy at Amazon
Orphans of the Sky (1963)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Past Through Tomorrow (1967)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of World As Myth Books

Time Enough for Love (1973)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Number of the Beast (1980)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Cat Who Walks Through Walls (1985)Description / Buy at Amazon
To Sail Beyond the Sunset (1987)Description / Buy at Amazon

Future History is a series of science fiction novels written by American science fiction writer, Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988). Heinlein began the publication of Future History series in 1939 when Life Line the first book in the series was published. The series describes a forecasted future of the humanity from the mid-20th to 23rd century. The series name was conceived by John W. Campbell Jr. in Feb 1941 edition of Astounding Science Fiction.

The author, Heinlein
wrote many of Future History stories early in his career between 1939 and 1941. Many of the Future History stories written before 1967 are compiled in The Past through Tomorrow which apparently also contains the final version of the chart. However, the collection does not include Common Sense and Universe as these two were published differently as Orphans of the Sky.

American science fiction anthologist, Groff Conklin described Future History series as one of the greatest of all histories of tomorrow. In 1966 the series was nominated for Hugo Award for the category; Best All-Time series along with The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien, Lensman series by E.E. Smith, Foundation series by Isaac Asimov. Unfortunately, the series lost to Foundation series by Asimov.

For the most part, The Past Through Tomorrow narrates a group of stories that are written within the Future History series. However, many of Heinlein scholars agree that many of stories that are not included in the anthology belong to the Future History

James Gifford states that Let There Be Light which is not included in The Past through Tomorrow probably because the author or the collection editor disliked it and also Time Enough for Love which was released after The Past Through Tomorrow is a borderline case.

The chart published in the collection Revolt in 2100 (a science fiction collection which is a part of Future History series), is comprised of several unwritten stories.

Life Line

First published in 1939, Life Line is the first book in future History series and Heinlein’s debut short story. The main character in the novel is Professor Pinero, who builds a device capable of predicting how long a human being can live. The machine predicts by transmitting a signal across the worldline of a person then detects the echo from the far end. This invention is considered one of the best and has a strong impact on the life insurance sector as well as the professor’s life.

Professor Pinero is frequently mentioned in the later novels such Methuselah’s Children and Time Enough for Love when the almost immortal man named Lazarus Long talks of having been examined and sent away since the machine was broken.

Heinlein was inspired to write Life Line by an editorial magazine, Thrilling Wonder Stories in which Hugo Gernsback wrote that he wants to foster new talent in the field. The author wrote a 7000-word story which he submitted to a rival magazine, Astounding which paid him 1¢ per word, and Heinlein was paid $70, approximately $1,100 in 2015.

In 2017, a television web series based on Life Line was released. The American sci-fi drama broadcasted on the YouTube Red network and starred Sydney Park and Zack Gilford. Running for eight episodes, Lifeline movie is based on an insurance company that uses time travel to prevent the deaths of their clients. However after the company’s best agent accidentally causes his wife’s death after a save gone wrong, he attempts to find the killer while trying to figure out for a way to go back in time and try to change history.

Let There Be Light

Let There Be Light is the second book in Future History
series initially published in Super Science Stories magazine in 1940 by Heinlein under the pseudonym, Lyle Monroe. The story revolves around the invention of light panels- the instruments that could turn electrical power into light ones similar to the electroluminescent displays invented in 1949.

In the course of Light Panels discovery, the inventors also discovered that these panels could also be used to derive power from light. In an attempt to market their invention, the inventors are met with criticism from the Power
Syndicate, a group of energy producing companies determined to preserve their monopoly on power production.

Instead of maintaining copyrights on their invention, the group of scientist instead publicly releases the details of their invention for a small royalty, thus allowing anyone to own their power which makes them outwit the Power Syndicate.

The Roads Must Roll

The roads Must Roll is set shortly when “road towns” similar to sidewalks replace railways and highways and become the dominant mode of transportation used in the United States.

Heinlein themes are social cohesion and technological change, the fictional social movement he refers to as functionalism is based on the idea that a person’s status and level in a society must rely on the functions one performs in the society.

The story opens up with, Larry Gaines, the Chief Engineer dining in a moving restaurant when one of the moving sidewalks suddenly stops causing injuries to thousands of commuters. Gaine soon discovers that it was sabotage. He also finds that the workers maintaining that section of the road have been convinced by a radical theory (Functionalism) that their role in maintaining the nation’s infrastructure is significant than that of any other workers. He also finds out that they caused the accident as an act of demonstration to encourage other workers to join them and start a functionalist revolution.

Gaines makes his waythe machinery under the roadway and takes command of the response and order the military to evacuate the rides. He also finds out that the man in charge of the rebels is Van Kleeck, as in charge of the Sacramento sector. The man also threatens to murder millions of commuters Gaines does not surrender.

The third in Future History series uses a well know but unique technique known as “the false protagonist.” At first, readers are introduced to Van Kleeck and quickly drawn in by his heartfelt speech- that suggests that radical measures must be taken against the Transport Cadets. But later, when Larry Gaines is introduced, readers are let to believe that he is trying to subdue the attempts by Van Kleeck.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Future History

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